How Google Plus will boost your local business reputation

At the beginning of June, Google made some fundamental changes to their Google Places listings.  They removed Google Places and changed it to be part of their social media networking platform Google +.

It is now called Google + Local. And while it is a huge change that will mix up things for some time, the benefits to a local business will be boosted dramatically, if used effectively.

Google + has grown faster than Facebook ever did in its first 6 months.  While accounts are now at around 400 million, Google has decided to boost that level faster by merging everything with Google +.

And when you consider that globally, Google has around 1 billion user accounts, once they are all merged and being used by customers, Google + will be bigger than Facebook.

So, why is this change so great for your local business?

It’s all about Social Proof and Trust.

Everyone thinks and talks about Facebook being the next big way for businesses to get more business; Facebook is a closed social network.  They fought to stop Google from indexing pages.  If a bunch of people love your business and leave reviews on FB that is as far as it goes. It will only be seen by your FB friends.

Google + on the other hand is open.  Every person with a Google Plus account that writes a review will be seen by Google.  If lots of your customers write good or bad reviews, every one of them will be seen.

When local people search for a local business and they find your business and your competitors on the first page, they will either go to the website or the Google + Local page.  We know they will be more likely to visit the +Local page if there are reviews there.

The power of this is yet to be realised, not only by local business but by all types of businesses.

But, reviews on their own will not be enough.  It will also be the trust factor of those reviews.  For instance, if someone writes one review for your business and never touches their Google + account again, Google will know that and may remove the review or reduce its impact.  So the trust factor of those reviewers is going to be huge.

It will affect your business reputation.

It will affect your search engine rankings.

Google Plus will definitely pass Facebook’s number of accounts within the next 12 months and your local business must be ready to take part in it.

There is no doubt Google Plus will become the backbone of search engine rankings. And it’s already started.

Using Mobile Marketing To Boost Existing Marketing

I’ve been talking with a local restauranteur about their marketing.  And what I have found from those conversations has opened his eyes.

Restaurants have always found Internet marketing to be relatively ineffective.  Ranking websites for their area doesn’t bring traffic and it doesn’t enhance their existing marketing.

And when I first spoke to the restauranteur, he expected the same situation with mobile marketing which would give me a mobile site that sat there and achieved nothing for the investment.

When I showed him how mobile marketing could boost the results from his traditional marketing, his eyes lit up.  Finally he could see how the technology could bring in new customers, increase the amount they spend and how to get them to come back more often.  And, much to his delight, it was easily measurable and a campaign he thought about in the morning could be sent out in the afternoon.

That is the big key to mobile marketing.  Using it to boost a business’ existing marketing strategy.  It can boost window signage, POS signage, menus, direct mail, invitations on receipts, even handouts.  Whatever marketing your business is using, mobile marketing can boost its impact.

It can

Instantly reach customers where they are…at home, at work or on the way home.

Instantly reach customers when they are ready to buy…hungry, comparing products, looking for a place to eat.

The possibilities for this restauranteur have grown far beyond what he ever thought possible.  You don’t have to be restaurant to take advantage of mobile marketing.  Look at what you are currently doing and how mobile can become part of your marketing strategy.

Mobile Marketing without Google

For the last few years, we have seen the emphasis on marketing using search engines, especially Google.

As a result, most of the marketing that is talked about and pushed to businesses is about getting onto page 1 of Google.  Something that should still be part of your business’ marketing strategy.

But not the only thing.  Marketing should never only be about getting new customers.  If businesses relied only on getting new customers, most of them would go out of business very quickly.

Repeat customers keeps the doors open. They pay the bills, the loans and the employees. Getting customers back to buy again and again should be the main source of every business marketing plan.

Mobile marketing is ideal to manage, measure and monitor.  And Google is almost nowhere to be seen.

Mobile websites, QR Codes, text messaging, mobile apps, coupons, keywords are all ways to build a database of customers and keep them coming back to buy from you.

Or to stop money leaking from the business with appointment reminders.  People break appointments every day for the dentist, hairdressers etc.  In the past, if an appointment was broken you were left with  a gap and could only fill it if someone rang at the right time. With sms messaging you can let every customer know you have a gap to fill.

You can test a campaign out that you thought about in the morning and have it send by the end of the day and test the results.  No days, weeks or months needed to book ad space.  You prepare the text ad and send it.

The possibilities are endless.  The relationship you can build with your customers is huge.  Just don’t overdo it.  If you send an sms daily, you will probably get many opting out.

For some businesses, once a week is fine, for others once a month is all that is needed.

Your Business Reputation is Everything

Online reviews can be great value or do damage  to your business.

The anonymity the Internet can provide means that people who don’t like you can write reviews that are damaging to you business and reputation. And there is very little you can do to stop them.

There is legal action going on at the moment that may change the in the future.  We’ll have to wait and see how it pans out.

Even if a customer wrote a legitimate review on how they were treated.  How would you know about it?

The advantage with online word of mouth is you can monitor what people are writing about you.  There are ways to keep track of the good and bad things written about you or your business.  Monitoring is one thing. Managing those reviews is another.

How do you get rid of them?

Do you respond to each one?

How do you get positive reviews?

It needs to be managed like any other business system you have to earn an income.  It must be part of your marketing strategy.

Give customers every opportunity to write a review for you.  Show them how easy it can be to add one to your Google Places or to an online local directory.

The way it works, if customers keep writing good reviews and somebody decides to really bag you, then it won’t take too long for their bad review to be pushed down from the top of the list.  And when people scroll down, they might see one bad review but see dozens of great reviews before and after.

It’s a system that can be set up on a computer or a mobile phone or tablet.  There are effective ways to use reviews to really build a great business reputation.  If you need any help building positive reviews from your customers call me today.

Get A Bigger Piece of The Local Marketing Pie

Barely a day goes by without reading in the daily papers or hearing on the radio or TV that consumers are saving more than they are spending.

And we are seeing it everyday in our local communities, with small businesses closing their doors.  And even more businesses cutting back in some way or another.

It all sounds like doom and gloom but the great thing is that unemployment has not been growing very much.

So what does all this mean to your local business, small or medium?

If you look at previous economic slowdowns, the businesses that boosted their customer service and really focused on carving out a niche grew faster than their competitors.  And many of those businesses were started during these supposedly quiet economy.

As we all know, during the good or bad times, there is only a certain slice of the total pie you can grab.  So how do you grab a larger slice of that pie for your business?

Quite simply, by using local search and mobile search marketing more effectively than your competitors you have the ability to take  a larger piece of the consumer pie.

To take that larger piece, you have to ensure your business is positioned effectively.  Here are some ways to do just that.

  1. Be on page one of Google in your local area for the keywords that are most commonly typed in by your customers.
  2. Be easily found on Google mobile
  3. Ensure you have a website that makes it easy for customers to contact you
  4. Ensure you have a mobile friendly website that makes it easy for customers to call you with one tap
  5. Offer packages and deals that your competitors can’t or won’t offer – really refine your niche

How you put each point into practice is the subject of many other articles on local and mobile marketing.

You have to be where your customers are looking and that is on Google using their computers and increasing their mobile phones and tablets.  Customers will no longer use a phone directory or the newspapers to find you, they will be looking for your business or your competitors using search engines which will mostly likely be Google.

You must take action before your competitors do.  Go to it

Mobile Web Access Accelerating with Businesses lagging behind

I’ve just seen some statistics on mobile access to the web that should make businesses get up and take action.

According to  ITU and Wireless Intelligence (2011), 82.7% of all mobile device owners has active broadband subscriptions.  Add to that 65% of all mobile phones in Australia are smartphones.  Number of mobile phones in Australia 26 million.

Allowing for the fact that our population is only around 21 million, that means approximately 11 million Australians are using their smartphones to access the Web.

And businesses, especially local businesses can’t see or won’t acknowledge the changes going on around them.

Old print advertising and marketing is dying fast and many local business owners are seeing the changes but are not doing anything to take advantage of the opportunity mobile phones can give their business.

If you take just the basics of business marketing, you can see how mobile marketing will impact each one.

Those marketing steps are:

  1. Bring in regular flow of new customers
  2. Get existing customers back to buy again
  3. Get customers to buy more often

Phone directory and newspaper ads only ever addressed number 1.  Writing, printing and sending letters helped with number 2 and possibly number 3.

Mobile marketing manages all three and expands on them in the most measurable methods ever possible for a serious business marketer.

Mobile websites address number 1.

Mobile apps address number 2 and number 3.

SMS messages address number 2 and number 3.

QR coupons address all three

If you want to expand the range even further, then Word of Mouth and Reviews can be managed very effectively with mobile website, a mobile app and a good strategy.  Add to that the ability to test a campaign quickly and inexpensively and get measurable results within hours or days.

If your business is serious about surviving and thriving in the next 3-4 years, then mobile must become a major part of every business owners marketing.  Which mobile strategy can only be determined by the business, it’s customers and it’s attitude to building a strong online and mobile marketing presence.

Every business is different and it should never be a template approach to marketing or building a mobile website.  It must all fit together in the strategy that is going to bring the  best return on investment.

If you want to find out more, call Warren to discuss how mobile websites, mobile apps and mobile marketing can be part of the plans for your business.

Mobile Search to take over by 2014

There has been talk for some time that internet search using mobile phones is set to exceed local searches made from a computer.

As reported in The Age newspaper, in the battle for mobile phones, between July-Sept 2011 65% of mobiles purchased were smartphones.

This is up from 59% at the same time last year. The battle between Android and Apple is partly driving this demand. Add this to the rising growth of tablet purchases such as the iPad and you have a rapidly growing market.

Another point that drove home the growing mobile market was APC magazines report on “Smarter Phones”.  They wrote about the new chips or processors for mobiles that will be coming out next year.  Without going into any technical details, these chips will bring with them quite literally smarter phones and almost to the point of mobile computers in their own right.

So if you’ve just got used to emailing or searching the web from time to time, you can expect your phone to be always connected, much like your home broadband connection, and be able to play movies, video games in high definition.  Your ability to use mobile search will surely take over.

The gist of this is that businesses that don’t have a website set up correctly for both computer based and mobile friendly search, they will lose business.

From 2014, if you cannot be found on the Web from a computer or from a mobile phone, your business is unlikely to survive for long.

Your Website Must Be Mobile Search Friendly to Please Google

There is no denying that if your business website cannot be found using Google or the other search engines; you will start to lose sales to your competitors.

With mobile search, the field has exploded.  With more people using smartphones to access the internet, it is now ultra important to ensure your website is mobile friendly.

These statistics from ComScore show the changing nature of web browsing.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Although these statistics are for the U.S., about 57% of all mobile purchases are for smartphones. (ref: IDC Telecommunications)  Considering there are now about 26 million mobile phones in Australia, the number of people accessing the Web is believed to be in a similar range to the U.S.

So really what does it all mean for your business?

According to Matt Cutts from Google, mobile friendly sites are going to be important to search engine rankings.

If Google sees that a lot of people are accessing your mobile site and they are not staying because the content is not relevant or easy to navigate and are COMING RIGHT BACK to Google, it will assign a negative bounce rate to your site.

And this could hurt your mobile search engine ranking.

Google have said their rankings for desktops compared to mobile devices are different.  You might think that doesn’t matter if most people are using their desktop computers to find my business.

It may not matter to you right now but it will matter to your business over the next 12 months  With at least 12 million mobile capable web devices in Australia searching Google regularly, the ability to find your business wherever they are has never been easier.  And at the time when they are ready to buy!

Right now, you need to focus on getting your website mobile ready with…

  1. Content – so the mobile consumer can find and read your information easily
  2. Speed – your site should load in 5 seconds or less – no big images and other useless stuff loading in the background
  3. Relevance – always be relevant or the consumer will leave (and you won’t get them back)

Its time to go and make mobile search part of your online marketing and discover the great benefits it will bring to your business.

Call us today so we can show you how your website appears on smartphones.  The results may surprise you.

Yellow Pages gone by 2014 and replaced by Local Search

Finally, Telstra have admitted that Sensis the division that manages Yellow Pages directories is in sharp decline.  While they haven’t said exactly how fast the decline is, they have started to put employees off.

12 months of Google local search and the fast growth of smartphones to access the Internet has seriously dented yellow pages once powerful control of business advertising.  Businesses are stopping their yellow pages phone book ads in droves.

Yellow pages ignored the ominous warnings over the past 2 years as Web access kept growing and people’s usage of search engines increased.

In fact, it has caught out many businesses small and medium.  While many businesses have or will stop their yellow pages ads, many are not re-allocating those advertising dollars elsewhere of value.

Only 54% of small/medium sized businesses have a website.  And even those that have a site, very, very few of them appear or will ever appear on page 1 of a search engine.

Business owners and managers have failed to keep up with the change in consumer use of the Web.  Even though they are using the Web in much the same way, they have not acknowledged virtually every one of their prospective customers has also changed.

Many business owners have thought the 15-29 year generation is where most of the change has been happening.  What they haven’t realised is the biggest changes have been in the over 40’s.  In the space of barely one year, these consumers have gone from using local phone directories to searching exclusively online for products and services in their local area.

And its’ not just searching from a computer.  Many consumers now use their iPhone or smartphone to search the Web to compare prices, to check reviews or just to find a business that provides a product or service.

Business owners must realise that in the post yellow pages age, having a website is only one small step.

Every business must have an online marketing strategy to take advantage of local search marketing and mobile search marketing.

The opportunities are there for switched on business people to build their online marketing or risk being left behind by their competitors.

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